On Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced his intention to terminate the participation of Gabon, Niger, Uganda, and the Central African Republic in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade program.
This decision marks a significant shift in U.S. trade policy towards these African nations and raises questions about the future economic relations between the United States and these countries.
President Biden justified his decision by citing “gross violations” of internationally recognized human rights committed by the Central African Republic and Uganda, as reported by Reuters.
Furthermore, President Biden pointed to Niger and Gabon’s inability to establish or sustain progress in safeguarding political pluralism and the rule of law. This observation highlights the importance of these fundamental democratic principles and underscores the United States’ commitment to promoting them internationally.
“Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda, these countries have failed to address United States concerns about their non-compliance with the AGOA eligibility criteria,” Biden said in a letter to the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
President Biden has announced his intention to terminate the beneficiary status of Gabon, Niger, Uganda, and the Central African Republic under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) starting from January 1, 2024. This move reflects concerns about the human rights and democratic governance records of these countries.
AGOA, initiated in 2000, provides qualifying sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market. While AGOA’s expiration is set for September 2025, ongoing discussions revolve around the possibility of extending the program and its duration. This decision carries significant implications for African governments and industries.
African governments and industry groups are advocating for an early 10-year extension of AGOA without alterations to offer stability and assurance to businesses and potential investors concerned about the program’s future. The debate over AGOA’s extension underscores the complex dynamics of trade relations between the United States and African nations.